Jets and Rocket Flight Timeline


The revolutionary Boeing 367-80 rolled out to an appreciative crowd on May 14, 1954. The 367-80 was used by Boeing as a test aircraft for many years, paving the way for the 707 airliner and the KC-135 tanker. See more pictures of flight.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 10, 1954 A BOAC Comet breaks up in the air near Elba, Italy; 35 people are killed.

February 25, 1954 The Convair R3Y-1 Tradewind makes its first flight; engine problems keep it from becoming more successful.

February 27, 1954 The Lockheed XF-104 Star­fighter makes its first flight.

March 1, 1954 The first hydrogen bomb is exploded in the Marshall Islands.

April 8, 1954 A BOAC Comet breaks up in the air south of Naples, Italy; an investigation shows fatigue cracks around the windows.

June 2, 1954 Soviet MiG-15s attack a Belgian DC-3 carrying a cargo of pigs.

June 22, 1954 The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk makes its first flight.

Flight Pictures 

July 15, 1954 The Boeing 367-80, a 707 prototype, makes its first flight. It will have a profound influence on civil jet designs.

July 23, 1954 A British-owned Douglas DC-4 is shot down by Chinese fighters off Hainan Island.

July 26, 1954 U.S. Sky­raiders shoot down two Chinese fighters that attacked them while they searched for DC-4 survivors.

August 1, 1954 James "Skeets" Coleman flies a Convair XFY-1 in vertical takeoff and landing.

August 3, 1954 An XF2Y-1 Sea Dart exceeds the speed of sound in a dive. It is the first water-based plane to do so.

August 4, 1954 The English Electric Lightning flies.

August 23, 1954 The Douglas X-3 Stilleto makes its first flight.

August 26, 1954 Major Arthur "Kit" Murray reaches 90,440 feet in a Bell X-1A rocket plane.

On August 26, 1954, Major Arthur "Kit" Murray set an altitude record of 90,440 feet in the Bell X-1A. He is shown here in the protective pressure suit of the time.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

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September 29, 1954 The McDonnell F-101A Voodoo, a development of the XF-88, makes its first flight. It has two J57 engines.

October 6, 1954 The Fairey Delta 2 research aircraft makes its first flight.

October 17, 1954 The Sikorsky XH-39 sets a helicopter altitude record of 24,500 feet. It is piloted by Army Warrant Officer Billy I. Wester.

November 1, 1954 The last B-29 bomber is withdrawn from service.

1955 Flight Timeline

The Convair XFY-1 "Pogo" was a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter that could operate from any deck, not just an aircraft carrier.
The Convair XFY-1 "Pogo" was a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter that could operate from any deck, not just an aircraft carrier.
Warren M. Bodie Collection

February 26, 1955 George Smith makes the first supersonic ejection from an F-100.

March 2, 1955 The Boeing KC-135 is judged to be the winner of the tanker competition.

March 17, 1955 BOAC announces that it will purchase 20 de Havilland Comet 4s, a redesign of the original ill-fated Comet.

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June 29, 1955 The first Boeing B-52 enters operational service with the 93rd Bomb Wing at Castle Air Force Base.

July 14, 1955 The Martin P6M SeaMaster, a jet seaplane, makes its first flight.

August 20, 1955 Colonel Horace A. Hanes sets a world speed record of more than 822 miles per hour in a North American F-100A Super Sabre.

August 23, 1955 An RAF Canberra reconnaissance plane makes a round-trip transatlantic flight of 6,920 miles in 14 hours, 21 minutes, including a 35-minute stop at Floyd Bennett Field for refueling.

August 29, 1955 A Canberra sets a world altitude record of 65,876 feet for nonrocket airplanes.

September 3, 1955 The ground-level ejection seat is tested successfully in the Gloster Meteor.

October 8, 1955 The USS Saratoga, a new aircraft carrier, is launched.

October 13, 1955 Pan Am announces orders for 25 Douglas DC-8s and 20 Boeing 707s.

October 15, 1955 The Douglas A4-D Skyhawk sets a 500-kilometer record of 695.13 miles per hour.

October 16, 1955 The prototype Boeing 707 crosses the United States twice in one day, from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and back in six hours, eight minutes. The eastbound flight averaged 592 miles per hour; the westbound flight averaged 567 miles per hour.

October 22, 1955 The Republic YF-105A Thunderchief exceeds the speed of sound on its first flight.

October 25, 1955 The Saab 35 Draken, a double-delta jet, makes its first flight.

November 1, 1955 A United Airlines DC-6B is destroyed by a bomb shortly after takeoff; 44 are killed.

November 24, 1955 The Fokker F27 Friendship turboprop airliner makes its first flight.

December 10, 1955 The Ryan X-13 VTOL jet makes its first flight.

December 20, 1955 The Douglas DC-7C, the last of the breed, makes its first flight.

1956 Flight Timeline

The McDonnell F-101A Voodoo was the second of the "Century Series" fighters. The Voodoo served in a number of roles, including reconnaissance, tactical nuclear strike, and interception.
The McDonnell F-101A Voodoo was the second of the "Century Series" fighters. The Voodoo served in a number of roles, including reconnaissance, tactical nuclear strike, and interception.
Warren M. Bodie Collection

January 23, 1956 The United States Air Force announces that the McDonnell F-101A Voodoo has flown faster than 1,100 miles per hour.

February 10, 1956 Marshal of the RAF Viscount Trenchard, founder of the RFC and RAF, dies at age 83.

March 10, 1956 Peter Twiss sets a world speed record in a Fairey Delta 2, averaging 1,132 miles per hour.

May 21, 1956 The first U.S. air-dropped hydrogen bomb is exploded in the Bikini Islands.

May 27, 1956 Soviets announce that the Tupolev Tu-104 passenger jet has a cruising speed of 500 to 560 miles per hour and a range of 3,000 miles.

June 21, 1956 Orders are announced for 30 Convair 600 Golden Arrow jets. It will be the biggest commercial jet failure in history.

June 30, 1956 A United DC-7 and a TWA Super Connie collide over the Grand Canyon; 128 people are killed.

July 23, 1956 The long-lived French Dassault Etendard IV makes its first flight.

August 9, 1956 The Fiat G.91 prototype--a "Mini-Sabre"--makes its first flight.

August 23-24, 1956 The Hiller H-21 twin-rotor aircraft makes a nonstop transcontinental flight from San Diego to Washington, D.C.

August 31, 1956 The first production Boeing KC-135A tanker makes its first flight.

September 2, 1956 The H-13 helicopter sets an endurance record of 57 hours, 40 minutes.

September 20, 1956 The United States announces that the Bell X-2 has reached 1,900 miles per hour and 126,000 feet altitude.

September 20, 1956 Another order for Lockheed T-33 trainers is announced. Ultimately 5,691 of the trainers will be built by Lockheed; they will remain in service for more than 40 years.

September 27, 1956 Captain Milburn Apt is killed in the crash of a Bell X-2 after setting a Mach 3.196 speed record (2,094 miles per hour).

October 1956 The last of the Connies, the 1649A Starliner, makes its first flight.

The mighty Douglas Aircraft Company built the DC-6 in reaction to the Lockheed Constellation. The DC-6 could carry from 48 to 86 passengers at a cruising speed of 315 miles per hour.
NASA

November 6, 1956 Morton Lewis and Malcolm Ross set an altitude record of 76,000 feet in a balloon.

November 11, 1956 The Convair XB-58 Hustler supersonic bomber makes its first flight.

November 15, 1956 The North American F-107 reaches Mach 2 in test flights.

November 17, 1956 The Mirage III, a delta-wing fighter, makes its first flight.

November 28, 1956 The Ryan X-13 Vertijet makes its first jet vertical takeoff and transition into level flight.

December 17, 1956 The Short SC-1 VTOL research plane makes its first flight.

December 26, 1956 The Convair F-106 Delta Dart prototype makes its first flight.

1957 Flight Timeline

The Douglas DC-7C was at the peak of piston-engine airliner development, with intercontinental range and cruising speeds of 360 miles per hour.
The Douglas DC-7C was at the peak of piston-engine airliner development, with intercontinental range and cruising speeds of 360 miles per hour.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 6, 1957 BOAC begins transatlantic use of the Douglas DC-7C.

January 18, 1957 Three Boeing B-52s make the first nonstop round-the-world flight by jet aircraft in 45 hours, 20 minutes at an average speed of 534 miles per hour.

January 20, 1957 The first Boeing KC-135 tankers go into operation at Castle Air Force Base.

February 19, 1957 The Bell X-14 VTOL makes its first flight.

March 4-15, 1957 The Navy nonrigid airship ZPB-2 completes a nonstop transatlantic crossing and sets a new world endurance record for unrefueled flight: 264 hours and 14 minutes.

March 11, 1957 The Boeing 707 sets a transcontinental speed record for passenger flight: Seattle to Washington, D.C., in 3 hours, 48 minutes, with 42 passengers and a crew of 10.

March 21, 1957 The A3D-1 Skywarrior, piloted by Commander Dale Cox, Jr., breaks two transcontinental speed records. The first is from Los Angeles to New York and back in 9 hours, 31 minutes, 35 seconds. The second is for an east to west flight in 5 hours and 12 minutes.

March 27, 1957 The McDonnell F-101B Voodoo makes its first flight.

May 16, 1957 The Saunders-Roe SR.53 rocket/jet-powered interceptor makes its first flight.

May 16, 1957 The Boeing Bomarc interceptor is ordered into production.

June 6, 1957 Two U.S. Navy Skywarriors fly from the USS Bon Homme Richard to the USS Saratoga in the first carrier-to-carrier nonstop transcontinental flight.

July 16, 1957 Future astronaut and senator John Glenn breaks the transcontinental speed record in a Vought F8U-1P Crusader by flying 3 hours, 22 minutes, 50.05 seconds, at an average speed of 723.517 miles per hour.

July 16, 1957 Two Douglas A3D Skywarriors make a record flight from Moffet Field in California to Honolulu in 4 hours, 45 minutes.

July 19, 1957 An F-89J fires an air-to-air Genie rocket, with nuclear warhead, over Yucca Flats, Nevada.

August 1957 The R.7, the first Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile, is launched.

August 12, 1957 A Douglas F3D-1 Skynight makes an automatic landing on board the USS Antietam.

August 18, 1957 Paul Bikle establishes a glider speed record of 55.02 miles per hour over a 300-kilometer triangular course.

August 19-20, 1957 Major David G. Simons sets a balloon altitude record of 101,516 feet.

August 28, 1957 A Canberra sets a jet aircraft altitude record of 70,308 feet.

August 30, 1957 The USAF accepts the first Douglas C-133 turboprop transport.

October 4, 1957 The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the first artificial satellite.

October 25, 1957 The Short S.C.1 makes its first free-flight vertical takeoff.

November 3, 1957 The Soviets launch Sputnik 2 carrying the dog Laika.

November 6, 1957 The prototype of the Fairey Rotodyne is flown. It's a combination fixed/rotary wing VTOL 48-passenger liner.

November 11, 1957 General Curtis E. LeMay flies a Boeing KC-135A nonstop from Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, to Buenos Aires. He flies 6,350 miles in 13 hours, 2 minutes, to set a world record for nonstop, nonrefueled jet flight.

December 6, 1957 The Lockheed Electra II turboprop airliner makes its first flight.

December 12, 1957 Major Adrian D. McDonnell, in a F-101A Voodoo, sets a world speed record of 1,207.34 miles per hour.

December 17, 1957 The Atlas ICBM is successfully fired for the first time.

December 20, 1957 The first production example of the Boeing 707 makes its debut.

December 23, 1957 North American Aviation wins the contract for the XB-70 bomber.

December 28, 1957 J. E. Woman, in a Cessna YH-41, reaches 30,335 feet to set a world helicopter record.

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1958 Flight Timeline

The Fairey Delta 2 raised the world absolute speed record to 1,132 miles per hour -- the first time it had exceeded 1,000 miles per hour.
The Fairey Delta 2 raised the world absolute speed record to 1,132 miles per hour -- the first time it had exceeded 1,000 miles per hour.
Warren M. Bodie Collection

January 14-20, 1958 Qantas Airways flies the first scheduled round-the-world route using Lockheed's Super Constellations.

January 31, 1958 The first successful U.S. satellite, Explorer I, is launched from Cape Canaveral.

March 27, 1958 A Boeing KC-135 flies nonstop from California to New Zealand.

April 8, 1958 A USAF KC-135 flies nonstop from Tokyo to Azores, Portugal, a distance of 10,228 miles. Brigadier General W. E. Eubank piloted the aircraft, setting a world speed record of 13 hours, 45 minutes, and 46 seconds between Tokyo and Washington, D.C. (492.262 miles per hour).

April 9, 1958 A Canberra blows up at 56,000 feet, necessitating the highest ejection to date.

April 18, 1958 The Grumman F11F-1 Tiger, piloted by Lieutenant Commander George C. Watkins, sets a world altitude record of 76,932 feet.

May 2, 1958 Rene Carpentier flies the mixed-powerplant Trident to 78,452 feet.

May 7, 1958 The Lockheed F-104A reclaims the altitude record when Major Howard C. Johnson pilots it to 91,243 feet.

May 16, 1958 Captain Walter W. Irwin flies an F-104A at 1,403 miles per hour, setting a world speed record.

May 17, 1958 Four McDonnell F3H Demons and four Vought F8U Crusaders fly nonstop across the Atlantic.

May 22-23, 1958 Major E. N. LeFaivre, USMC, sets five time-to-climb altitude records in a Douglas F4D-1.

May 27, 1958 The McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II makes its first flight with Robert Little as the pilot.

June 12, 1958 A KC-135 sets an unofficial coast-to-coast record of 3 hours, 42 minutes, 45 seconds.

July 3, 1958 A Boeing 707 commercial airliner sets a Los Angeles to Mexico City record: three hours, nine minutes.

July 26, 1958 Captain Ivan Kincheloe, a famous test pilot, is killed in the crash of a Lockheed F-104.

July 27, 1958 Commanders Malcom Ross and Morton Lewis set a balloon endurance record of 34 hours and 20 minutes.

August 1, 1958 Captain Marion Boling sets a record of 6,979 miles in a Beechcraft Bonanza, flying from Manila to Pendleton, Oregon.

August 7, 1958 A de Havilland Comet 4 sets a west-east transatlantic record, flying from New York to Hatfield, England, in 6 hours and 27 minutes.

August 10, 1958 Seven USAF F-101 Voodoos set a formation distance record of 5,953 miles, flying from Austin, Texas, to Brentwood, England.

August 19, 1958 The Lockheed Orion, an anti-submarine warfare plane, flies for the first time.

August 23, 1958 The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is created.

September 23, 1958 The Beijing No. 1, an aircraft designed in Chinese People's Republic, makes its first flight.

October 1, 1958 The National Advisory Council on Aeronautics (NACA) becomes the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA).

October 4, 1958 BOAC inaugurates transatlantic service with de Havilland Comet 4s.

October 26, 1958 Pan Am offers transatlantic service with Boeing 707s.

December 19, 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower broadcasts a message from Project SCORE satellite.

December 31, 1958 As the year draws to a close, tallies reveal that, for the first time, total passengers carried by air exceeds total passengers carried by sea in transatlantic service.

1959 Flight Timeline

The Fairey Rotodyne used a power-driven rotor for vertical flight, propellers for forward propulsion, and an auto-rotating rotor for cruising flight.
The Fairey Rotodyne used a power-driven rotor for vertical flight, propellers for forward propulsion, and an auto-rotating rotor for cruising flight.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 5, 1959 The Fairey Rotodyne sets a closed-course record (100 kilometers) for convertiplanes.

January 25, 1959 American Airlines starts 707 transcontinental service.

February 12, 1959 The last Convair B-36 is withdrawn from service.

March 10, 1959 The first captive flight of an X-15 is made with Scott Crossfield in the cockpit.

April 2, 1959 Seven astronauts are selected for Project Mercury: L. Gordon Cooper, Jr.; Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom; Donald K. "Deke" Slayton; Scott Carpenter; Alan B. Shepard, Jr.; Walter M. Schirra, Jr.; and John H. Glenn, Jr.

April 23, 1959 The Hound Dog missile makes its first flight with B-52s.

May 27, 1959 The Bomarc undergoes its first test flight.

May 28, 1959 Two monkeys, Able and Baker, are launched in the Jupiter nose cone; both will be recovered safely.

June 4, 1959 Max Conrad sets a lightplane distance record of 7,683 miles in a Piper Comanche.

June 8, 1959 Scott Crossfield makes the first glide flight in a North American X-15.

June 16, 1959 Soviet MiGs attack a Martin P4M Mercator, shooting out both starboard engines and wounding two crew members.

June 17, 1959 The Dassault Mirage IV-A bomber makes its first flight.

July 14, 1959 The Sukhoi T-431 sets a world altitude record of 94,659 feet.

July 30, 1959 The prototype of the Northrop F-5, the N-156, makes its first flight and goes supersonic.

September 12, 1959 The Soviets launch the Lunik 2, the first artificial object to make impact on the moon.

September 18, 1959 The Douglas DC-8 begins commercial service.

October 4, 1959 Soviets send Lunik 3 to photograph the far side of the moon.

October 10, 1959 The Clipper Windward, Pan Am 707-321, makes the first round-the-world passenger flight for jet airliners.

October 31, 1959 Another world record for the Soviets: Mikoyan Type Ye-66 flies at 1,665 miles per hour.

November 9, 1959 Contracts for Dyna-Soar are placed with Boeing and Martin; Dyna-Soar would have put the USAF in space years before the Space Shuttle.

November 16, 1959 Joe Kittinger parachutes from a balloon at 76,400 feet; he free falls 64,000 feet.

November 24, 1959 The Hiller Tilt-Wing X-18 makes its first flight.

December 6, 1959 A McDonnell F-4 Phantom, piloted by Commander L. E. Flint, sets an altitude record of 98,556 feet.

December 11, 1959 Brigadier General J. H. Moore, flying a Republic F-105B, sets a 100-kilometer closed-course speed record of 1,216.48 miles per hour.

December 14, 1959 Captain J. B. Jordan, in a Lockheed F-104C, sets an altitude record of 103,389 feet.

December 15, 1959 Major Joseph W. Rogers, in a Convair F-106A Delta Dart, sets a straightaway course record of 1,525.9 miles per hour.

1960 Flight Timeline

The Sikorsky S-58 was used with great success by the United States Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Army, as well as by civilian organizations. A total of 1,820 S-58s were built.
The Sikorsky S-58 was used with great success by the United States Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, and Army, as well as by civilian organizations. A total of 1,820 S-58s were built.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

March 1, 1960 A ZPG-3W airship stays on patrol for 49.3 hours, spending 58 hours in the air -- a new record.

April 1, 1960 The first weather satellite, Tiros 1, is launched.

May 1, 1960 Captain Francis Gary Powers is shot down over the Soviet Union in a Lockheed U-2.

May 21, 1960 The last North American B-25 is withdrawn from USAF service.

July 1, 1960 The first Carrier On-Board Delivery (COD) squadron is activated.

August 12, 1960 Major Robert White pilots a North American X-15 to 136,500 feet.

August 12, 1960 Echo 1, the first passive communication satellite, is launched.

August 16, 1960 Joe Kittinger breaks his own record with a leap from a balloon at 102,800 feet and a free fall of 84,700 feet.

September 5, 1960 Major Tom Miller, USMC, sets a 500-kilometer closed course speed record of 1,216.78 miles per hour in a McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II.

September 21, 1960 The first Republic F-105A is accepted by Tactical Air Command.

September 25, 1960 Commander J. F. Davis sets a 100-kilometer closed course record of 1,390.21 miles per hour in a Phantom II, exceeding the existing record by more than 200 miles per hour.

October 14, 1960 A catastrophic accident occurs at Baikonur cosmodrome in the Soviet Union during the purported launch of a rocket to Mars.

October 16, 1960 The de Havilland Comet 4 is withdrawn from commercial passenger service.

December 10, 1960 A C-119 catches a 300-pound capsule from Discoverer XVIII.

December 13, 1960 A North American YA3J-1 sets a world altitude record of 91,450.8 feet with a 1,000-kilogram payload.

December 20, 1960 The Martin Company, founded in 1911 by Glenn L. Martin, delivers its last airplane, a P5M-2 flying boat, to the Navy. Martin will later develop experimental aircraft related to the space program.

1961 Flight Timeline

The Lockheed U-2 was designed to overfly the Soviet Union to determine exactly how advanced its bombers, missiles, and other offensive weapons were. The U-2 was a difficult aircraft to fly, demanding extreme concentration and good technique.
The Lockheed U-2 was designed to overfly the Soviet Union to determine exactly how advanced its bombers, missiles, and other offensive weapons were. The U-2 was a difficult aircraft to fly, demanding extreme concentration and good technique.
United States Air Force Museum

January 12, 1961 Major H. J. Deutschendorf establishes a world speed record of 808 miles per hour over a 2,000-kilometer closed course in a Convair B-58.

January 14, 1961 Major H. E. Confer sets a 1,000-kilometer closed course speed record of 1,284.73 miles per hour in a Convair B-58.

January 31, 1961 After a suborbital flight in a Mercury spacecraft, the chimpanzee Ham is recovered.

February 25, 1961 A Schwiezer I-23-E sailplane, piloted by Paul F. Bickle, sets an altitude record of 46,267 feet.

March 8, 1961 Max Conrad sets a lightplane round-the-world record: 8 days, 18 hours, and 35 minutes.

March 17, 1961 The first supersonic pilot trainer, the Northrop T-38, is delivered to Randolph Air Force Base.

March 30, 1961 Joe Walker sets an altitude record of 169,600 feet in a North American X-15.

April 10, 1961 A Navy Lockheed C-130BL makes a winter flight to and from Antarctica to bring out a stricken Soviet scientist.

April 12, 1961 Soviet Yuri Gagarin becomes the first person in space and completes one orbit of the Earth in 108 minutes.

April 21, 1961 The North American X-15, piloted by Major Robert White, reaches 3,074 miles per hour and 105,100 feet altitude in its first flight at full throttle.

April 28, 1961 The Soviet Union reclaims the altitude record with a 118,898-foot flight by a Mikoyan Ye-66A.

May 4, 1961 A world balloon record of 113,739.9 feet is set in a two-place open gondola balloon by Commander Malcolm Ross and Lieutenant Commander V. A. Prather. Unfortunately, Prather was killed when he fell from the sling of a recovery helicopter.

May 5, 1961 Alan B. Shepard, Jr., makes the first U.S. suborbital flight in the Freedom 7 Mercury spacecraft.

May 10, 1961 Major Elmer E. Murphy flies a Convair B-58 to 1,302 miles per hour over a closed course of 669.4 miles, earning the United States permanent possession of the Blériot trophy.

May 17, 1961 The Avro "flying saucer," a circular aircraft, has its first test flight.

May 17, 1961 The Sikorsky HSS-2 helicopter sets a world-class speed record of 192.9 miles per hour at Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

May 24, 1961 Lieutenant R. F. Gordon and Lieutenant B. R. Young fly a Phantom F-4H fighter at 870 miles per hour for 2,421.1 miles to win the Bendix Trophy.

May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy commits the United States to placing a person on the moon before 1970.

May 26, 1961 A Convair B-58, flown by Lieutenant Colonel William Payne, sets a New York-to-Paris record of 3 hours, 19 minutes, at 1,089.36 miles per hour. (Payne is subsequently killed in an accident in a B-58 in Paris.)

June 9, 1961 The first Boeing C-135 is delivered.

July 10, 1961 The Republic F-105D flies 1,520 miles nonstop on instruments at 500 feet altitude to test radar navigation.

July 21, 1961 Virgil "Gus" Grissom makes a suborbital flight in the Mercury Liberty Bell 7.

August 6-7, 1961 Soviet Major Gherman S. Titov completes 17 Earth orbits in the Vostok 2.

August 10, 1961 The Republic F-105 lifts a seven-ton armament load, the heaviest load ever lifted by a single-engine aircraft.

August 17, 1961 A Bomarc-B SAM destroys a drone B-47 at 50 miles distance, 5,000 feet altitude.

August 21, 1961 Douglas test pilots take a DC-8 supersonic in a dive.

August 24, 1961 Jacqueline Cochran sets a women's speed record in a Northrop T-38 Talon.

August 28, 1961 Lieutenant Hunt Hardisty (pilot) and Lieutenant Earl H. DeEsch (RIO) set a low-altitude speed record of 902.769 miles per hour in a McDonnell Phantom II.

October 7, 1961 The Soviet Union's Kamov Ka-22 helicopter sets a 221.4 miles per hour speed record for its class.

October 18, 1961 A Kaman H-43B Huskie helicopter sets an altitude record of 32,840 feet for its class.

November 1, 1961 A Sikorsky HSS-2 helicopter sets new speed records for 100, 500, and 1,000 kilometers at 182.8, 179.5, and 175.3 miles per hour, respectively.

November 9, 1961 Robert White takes a North American X-15 to 101,600 feet and 4,093 miles per hour.

November 19-20, 1961 Constance Wolf sets 15 world records for women balloonists with a 40-hour, 13-minute flight, reaching 13,000 feet in altitude.

November 22, 1961 The McDonnell F4H Phantom II, flown by Lieutenant Colonel Robert B. Robinson, USMC, sets a world speed record of 1,605.51 miles per hour.

1962 Flight Timeline

Twin-engine aircraft like the Cessna Skymaster are generally considered safer than single-engine aircraft--as long as both engines are running. Cessna solved the problem with its "push-pull" centerline thrust.
Twin-engine aircraft like the Cessna Skymaster are generally considered safer than single-engine aircraft--as long as both engines are running. Cessna solved the problem with its "push-pull" centerline thrust.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 10-11, 1962 A Boeing B-52H sets a nonstop, unrefueled distance record of 12,532 miles.

January 23, 1962 Eighteen Vought F8U-2N Crusaders make the first transpacific flight by a complete Marine Corps jet squadron.

February 5, 1962 The Sikor-sky HSS-2 Sea King is the first helicopter to officially exceed 200 miles per hour in a time trial, clocking 210.6 miles per hour.

February 14, 1962 Major Walter F. Daniel sets a 12,000-meter time-to-climb record of 1 minute, 35.74 seconds in a T-38 Talon.

February 20, 1962 Marine fighter pilot and future senator John H. Glenn, Jr., makes the first U.S. orbital flight of Earth in Friendship 7, completing three orbits.

February 21, 1962 A McDonnell Phantom II establishes new time-to-climb records to 3,000 and 6,000 meters in 34.52 and 48.78 seconds, respectively.

February 28, 1962 A Convair B-58 ejection capsule is tested at 565 miles per hour at 20,000 feet by Warrant Officer Edward J. Murray, who spends 26 seconds in a free fall and 8 minutes in a parachute.

March 1, 1962 A Phantom II, flown by Lieutenant Colonel W. C. McGraw, USMC, sets time-to-climb records to 9,000 and 12,000 meters in 61.62 and 77.15 seconds.

March 3, 1962 Climbing records continue to fall; a Phantom II piloted by Lieutenant Commander D. W. Nordberg gets to 15,000 meters in 114.54 seconds.

March 31, 1962 Lieutenant Commander F. Taylor Brown flies to 20,000 meters in 178.5 seconds in a Phantom II.

April 3, 1962 Lieutenant Commander John W. Young flies a Phantom II to 25,000 meters in 230.44 seconds.

April 12, 1962 All world time-to-climb records are held by the Phantom II as Lieutenant Commander D. W. Nordberg climbs to 30,000 meters in 371.43 seconds.

April 17, 1962 Major David W. Craw sets a world altitude record in a Boeing C-135B. He climbs to 47,171 feet with a 66,138-pound payload.

April 22, 1962 Jacqueline Cochran takes 49 world records in a 5,120-mile, three-stop flight in a Lockheed JetStar from New Orleans to Hanover, Germany.

May 10, 1962 A Phantom II fires a Sparrow III missile at supersonic speeds in a head-on attack of the Regulus II target missile, also supersonic. This is the first successful head-on attack of an air-launched missile against a surface-launched missile.

May 24, 1962 Scott Carpenter completes a three-orbit flight in Aurora 7.

June 1, 1962 Captain William Stevenson sets a closed-course distance record of 11,336.92 miles in a Boeing B-52H.

June 13, 1962 Captain Richard H. Coan sets a world-class closed-course distance record for type in a Kaman H-43B Huskie, 655.64 miles.

June 27, 1962 Joe Walker reaches 4,159 miles per hour in a North American X-15, an unofficial speed record.

July 5, 1962 The Kaman H-43B, piloted by Captain Chester R. Radcliffe, Jr., breaks its own distance record with a flight of 888.4 miles.

July 7, 1962 The Lockheed XV-4A VTOL research aircraft makes its first flight.

July 10, 1962 NASA launches Telstar 1, the first privately financed satellite.

August 11-15, 1962 Soviet Major Andrian Nikolayev, in Vostok 3, completes 64 revolutions and communicates via television with Earth, a space first.

August 27, 1962 NASA launches Mariner 2 spacecraft for a Venus flyby, to take place in December.

August 31, 1962 A Navy airship flies for the last time at Lakehurst, New Jersey. It is the end of an era; airships had been used by the Navy since 1917.

September 12, 1962 A Grumman Albatross UF-2G sets a world altitude record for amphibians with a 1,000-kilogram load at 29,640 feet.

September 14, 1962 Fitz Fulton sets a world altitude record for payloads of 4,409 and 11,023 pounds in a Convair B-58 at 85,360.8 feet.

September 15, 1962 A Grumman Albatros UF-2G sets a 5,000-kilometer speed record for amphibians with a 1,000-kilogram load at an average speed of 151.4 miles per hour.

September 19, 1962 The Pregnant Guppy, a converted Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, makes its first flight. It was designed by Aero Spacelines to carry missile and aircraft components.

October 17, 1962 A flight of 16 Douglas A4-C Skyhawks complete a two-way crossing of the Atlantic, refueling from Marine KC-130F Hercules tankers.

October 22, 1962 The Cuban Missile Crisis begins.

October 29, 1962 The Douglas DC-8F Trader all-cargo jet makes its first flight.

November 2, 1962 The Lockheed XH-51A rigid-rotor helicopter makes its first flight.

December 8, 1962 The Bell OH-4A light observation helicopter prototype debuts.

December 13-14, 1962 Project Stargazer balloon, piloted by Joe Kittinger, takes a civilian astronomer to 82,000 feet for the clearest celestial view ever experienced by an astronomer.

December 24, 1962 The Nord 262 pressurized light transport makes its first flight. It will have a troubled service history for years until reengined.

1963 Flight Timeline

The McDonnell F-4C Phantom was the primary fighter plane for both the United States Navy and Air Force in the Vietnam War.
The McDonnell F-4C Phantom was the primary fighter plane for both the United States Navy and Air Force in the Vietnam War.
Peter M. Bowers Collection

January 7, 1963 The Short Skyvan prototype flies.

January 7-13, 1963 U.S. Navy helicopters fly extensive rescue missions in flooded areas in Morocco, rescuing 320 people.

January 17, 1963 Joe Walker earns astronaut wings by flying a North American X-15 to 271,000 feet, essentially out of Earth's atmosphere.

January 26, 1963 The Hiller OH-5A helicopter makes its first flight.

January 29, 1963 A Walleye television-guided bomb demonstrates automatic homing; the device will be used extensively in Vietnam and beyond.

February 22, 1963 An LC-130F Hercules makes the longest flight in history over Antarctica: 3,470 miles from McMurdo Station over the South Pole to the Shackleton Mountains.

April 10, 1963 American Airlines pilot Wylie H. Drummond sets a national record for commercial jets by flying from Los Angeles to New York (2,474 miles) in 3 hours and 38 minutes at a speed of 680.9 miles per hour.

April 18, 1963 The Northrop X-21A (modified Douglas B-66) makes its first flight.

April 30-May 12, 1963 Betty Miller becomes the first woman to fly the Pacific solo, in four hops from Oakland, California, to Brisbane, Australia.

May 1, 1963 Jacqueline Cochran flies a TF-104G (two-seat) Starfighter to set a 100-kilometer closed-course record for women at 1,203.686 miles per hour.

May 7, 1963 Famed aviation and space pioneer Theodore von Karman dies in Aachen, Germany, just before his 82nd birthday.

May 8, 1963 Two squadrons of Douglas A-1E Skyraiders are added to the First Air Commando Group at Hurlburt Air Force Base for use in Vietnam.

May 19-21, 1963 Colonel James B. Swindal, in a VC-137C (Air Force One) sets 30 world records in flight from Washington to Moscow and back.

May 27, 1963 The first USAF version of the Phantom II, the F-4C, makes its first flight.

June 13, 1963 A Phantom II and a Crusader make the first fully automatic, hands-off carrier landings on the USS Midway.

June 14-19, 1963 The first woman in space, Soviet Junior Lieutenant Valentina V. Tereshkova completes 48 Earth orbits in Vostok 6.

June 20, 1963 The Navy ends seaplane pilot training with a last flight in a Martin Marlin.

June 27, 1963 Colonel Robert Rushworth takes a North American X-15 to 285,000 feet, earning his astronaut's wings.

July 19, 1963 Joe Walker flies a North American X-15 to 347,000 feet at 3,710 miles per hour.

August 7, 1963 Ben Greene establishes a record for Class D gliders with a 457.97 mile flight from Texas to Idaho.

August 20, 1963 The BAC 111 twinjet transport makes its first flight.

September 3, 1963 Milt Thompson lands a wingless M-2 lifting body reentry glider after a drop at 13,000 feet.

October 1, 1963 Admiral James R. Reedy makes the first transpolar nonstop flight in a Lockheed C-130.

October 16, 1963 Major Sidney J. Kubesch sets three world records in a Convair B-58 during a flight from Tokyo to London. He makes the flight in 8 hours and 35 minutes, averaging 692.7 miles per hour.

December 17, 1963 The Lockheed C-141A transport debuts in a 55-minute flight at Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia.

December 21, 1963 The Hawker Siddeley Andover transport debuts.